Track Your Results, Grow Your Practice

My clients often tell me that they don’t need to track rainmaking results, that they just know what’s working and what isn’t.
 Keeping records may seem inconvenient and unnecessary.  In reality, though, simple tracking will help you to get better results in business development.

If you’re getting new business, you know something is working, but you may not know what.  If you don’t track your rainmaking activity and results, you risk three problems:

  • You may find it difficult to make a rational decision about whether to continue an activity.  Without data on whether a particular effort is paying off, how can you know whether your investment is worthwhile?
  • You may overlook a valuable source of new business.  For example, one of my clients reported that an acquaintance sent him three potential clients in a ten-month period, yielding income of close to $30,000.  If he hadn’t tracked where that business came from, he might not have been able to express his appreciation and further develop the relationship, which in turn led to even more business.
  • You may mistake luck for skill.  Beginner’s luck isn’t limited to card games, nor is it limited to beginners.  Sometimes new business comes flooding in for coincidental reasons.  Without tracking the source of the business, there’s a risk of overlooking the coincidence, focusing on the results, and reducing activity.  The consequence?  A drop in business when luck dries up and skill has not taken its place.

Many lawyers believe that having a sense of how new business comes to them is good enough.  And for a handful of lawyers, that may be true.  In most cases, though, an informal, memory-based, qualitative system for tracking results is not dependable.

Memories fade and may be inaccurate.  Just as mental tracking is unreliable for balancing a checkbook, it is insufficient for making decisions about business development activity.  Every lawyer must have a client intake routine that includes determining how that client became aware of you and your practice.

Remember this insight from business performance improvement expert Dr. H. James Harrington:

Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement.  If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it.  If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it.  If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.

If you aren’t tracking the sources of your business, start today.  Here’s how:

  • When a potential client contacts you, make sure you or your staff asks how she found you.  When getting this information becomes habit, you’ll start to build useful data.
  • Incorporate questions about how the client came to contact you or your firm into your client intake form.  You may find that you get clearer results if you offer check boxes for the activities you’re engaged in (speaking, a blog, or referral, for example) rather than leaving a blank for the client to complete.
  • If you are working in a larger firm that does not use intake forms, consider creating your own form.  Request sourcing information as well as information about how and when a client wants to be contacted, who else should be kept apprised of the matter’s progress, and other information that will help you to deliver better client service.
Recognize too that your data probably will not be 100% accurate.  Depending on your practice area, some clients may not know how they found you, and some may be unwilling to tell you.  Nevertheless, any information you get will be more useful than a baseless guess.
What records will you keep to track the sources of your new business?


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